Why Mute R. Kelly?
We have come together to call for a worldwide financial boycott, a "mute", on R&B singer, Robert "R" Kelly, due to his 25 year history of sexual, physical and emotional abuse allegations. While he hasn't been found guilty in a court of law, the evidence is overwhelming that he has created an uninterrupted pattern of sexual violence in the African American community that must be stopped. If the court system is unable to protect our young Black women and girls, we must step forward to do so ourselves.
But he hasn't been convicted of anything.
True. But neither has George Zimmerman or many other people accused of crimes against black people. BUT WE ALL KNOW THEY ARE GUILTY! He was guilty of statutory rape when he married Aaliyah at 15 by falsifying documents. FACT. He was guilty of statutory rape when he performed degrading sex acts on a 14 year old girl in the infamous "pee tape." FACT. He was guilty of possessing over 20 recordings of child sex pornography in his home that led to indictments. FACT. We don't need the courts to find him guilty for us to know that he is a serial sexual abuser. The evidence is there whether or not the legal system is able to effectively use it for a conviction.
And to be clear, he hasn't been convicted but that doesn't mean he was innocent. In many cases the evidence was collected without the proper warrants, or there was insufficient witness testimony. He escaped prosecution on technicalities. That is not the same as innocence.
And since when has the Black community looked to the justice system to be the decider of innocence or guilt? All day long we scream the justice system is broken but NOW we act as though what it decides is the gospel truth? We all know that there are Black men and women sitting in jail right now that are innocent and tons more on the streets that are guilty. We should not need any outside forces to rid our communities of the ills that plague it. We should police our own communities. We should eject evil from our own house. We have 20+ years of evidence and witness testimony and pay offs to know that R Kelly is a menace to our communities. It's time for us to get our own house in order and hold him accountable for his actions.
Need to hear more from his victims?
But those girls were fast. They wanted it.
We reject the notion that young women discovering and coming into their sexuality are "fast." Most young people begin sexual experimentation around 13/14 years old; some even earlier. That is a natural part of human development. During adolescence, young people experience sexual feelings and desires due to hormones and changes in their bodies. This is not considered "fast" when boys express this sexuality. Any young person actively seeking a romantic or sexual relationship is not "fast." Our job as adults is not to shame them with labels and insults, but to teach them what's appropriate for their age and what's not.
Many of the underaged girls may have willfully accepted R Kelly's advances. They may have enjoyed his gifts and money and fame and attention. They may have believed they were in a "real" relationship with him. And who among us would not get swept up in the romantic advances of a rich and famous and powerful man? Of course, they fell for his lies. They were children! Children he sought out at high schools and McDonald's and malls. What did these children know of the world and of predatory men? It is OUR job as adults to protect children, often, from the thing they THINK they want.
The very reason we have statutory laws is not because these young people don't want sex, but because they aren't mentally equipped to deal with the repercussions of their actions. The aim of these laws is to give them more unmolested time to grow and learn and develop so that they can make informed decisions. How could a 16 year old know that the abortion that R Kelly forced her to have would lead to depression? How could a 15 year old know, that the shame of being thrown out by him when she was 18 would lead to a suicide attempt? They were children! We - the adults - are supposed to be protecting them. When they are harmed, it is us who fails. It is us who must shoulder that blame. Not them.
Regardless of who initiated the sexual relationship, between a 14 year old and a 30 year old, there is only 1 adult present. No one but child molesters will knowingly have sex with an underaged person. PERIOD. There is nothing a 14 year old can due to seduce a man of character and principle. It is an insult to all "good men" out there that we pretend that men are helpless to control themselves against the advancements of children. Between an adult and a child there is only 1 person responsible for what happened with R Kelly. That's R. Kelly.
What about the parents? Aren't they responsible?
If there is evidence that any of the girls parents knowingly gave R Kelly their children for sex, then yes, they should be brought up on charges for child endangerment.
However, the overwhelming majority of the parents either had no knowledge that their child was in a relationship with R Kelly at all, or they thought their children were in a professional, mentoring relationship with the singer.
There is evidence that R Kelly told many of the girls to lie about knowing him, to lie about hanging out with him, and to keep their sexual relationship with him a secret. He went around the parents, behind their backs, to initiate a non-professional relationship with their children. He did this not just with the young aspiring artists who were introduced to him, but also with children of fellow co-stars and the underaged children of some of his own staff! He found a way to get to the young women he wanted to molest, regardless of how vigilant the parents tried to be.
Also, the only way we can place blame on the parents for what happened to their daughters is if we admit that we know him to be a child molester. Many of the parents that introduced R Kelly to their daughters with the hope that he would help their career were probably like many of you - they didn't believe he was a sexual abuser. They thought the girl they'd heard about were "fast" or "gold-diggers" or "out to bring a Black man down." They thought, as many people do, that he is innocent. If that was their belief, what's the harm in introducing him to their daughter who is not fast or a gold digger or out to bring a Black man down?
If your first instinct is to blame the parents, then you must admit to yourself that R Kelly is a child abuser. If you would not allow your young daughter around him, then you must admit that he is a menace to all of our daughters. Otherwise, you are just meeting a famous singer, one of their favorite entertainers, the guy who wrote their college graduation anthem, etc. It would be no different than introducing your child to Barack Obama. If you think R Kelly's NOT a sexual abuser, then the parents did nothing wrong.
If he's guilty, why did they take the pay off?
Many, many young women and their families took R Kelly to court with the intention of seeking a conviction. Many were brave and told the full, harrowing story of their mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of R Kelly.
But let's be real, our society is not nice to girls that come forward with charges of abuse. We question their every motive. We place blame on them for everything that happened. We talk about what they wore, what time they went out, who they had sex with in the past. We call them names. We make jokes at their expense. We laugh at comedy skits that make fun of their sexual degradation. And they have to live with that. FOREVER.
Would you take your 14 year old daughter on TV or in a public court and have her give all of the gory sexual details of her relationship with a grown man? Would you want your daughters story to be fodder for comedy shows? Would you want her name to become synonymous with sexual promiscuity forever, a la Monica Lewinsky? Probably not. Regardless of the moral finger pointing that you may be doing now from the comfort of your home, if this happened to your family, you'd probably take the settlement money and avoid the public humiliation too. Be honest.
It is a parents instinct to protect their daughter from the public backlash of a trial that leads many families to settle. But let's be clear, some did NOT settle. R Kelly dragged out one case for 6 years, until the victim ran out of resources and dropped the case. He is able, time and time again, to use his money to get him out of a conviction. It's not for lack of court cases against him. When families discover what's happened, they do what they're supposed to do. They call the police. It is the court system that is failing them and we the people that are failing them.
Also, ask yourself this question - Why does he continue to pay off victim after victim after victim? If he's innocent and they have no evidence against him, why not take it to court? Innocent people don't pay out millions of dollars to fake accusers for decades. No lawyer would advise their client to do that. If a lawyer tells you to pay, it's because they know you can't win.
If Black women are largely his fan base and are ok with his history, why do this?
Yes, unfortunately the vast majority of R Kelly fans are Black women. Even we are not immune to believing the negative things that our society says about us. We believe it when society tells us that Black women can't be trusted. That we're promiscuous. That we always want to take a successful Black man down. That we're gold diggers. These “Jezebel” stereotypes permeate our everyday lives and perpetuate the idea that women of color cannot be raped because they are willing participants in all sexual activity. If you hear the same messages over and over again about yourself, you're bound to believe they're true. And so many black women use these same arguments against the women that have accused R Kelly of abuse.
And many Black women just don't want to be associated with the downfall of a successful Black man. They feel like a traitor for calling Black men out when they behave badly. They'd rather learn new ways to protect themselves, new methods of defense, and not tarnish a Black man's image in the media.
Over 60% of Black women have been sexually abused as a child. Think about what that means for an R Kelly concert. More than HALF of the women in attendance have had someone inflict the same sexual violence on them that R Kelly inflicts on his victims. And what's more, they're paying him to do it. Their concert dollars are what fuel his lifestyle. They are paying to help continue their own cycle of oppression.
Why do they do this? Because society teaches women to internalize the guilt and shame of sexual assault and blame themselves. They think, what if I had dressed differently? Had not gone over his house? Maybe I led him on or he misunderstood my intentions.
We do ourselves no favors as a community when we allow predatory men to continue their abuses against us unchecked. How can we form healthy families and communities, when we let rapists live in our homes, come to grandmas for Thanksgiving dinner, pray with us at church, make us laugh on tv, and perform their hit songs at our weddings?
Fortunately, with the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp women are beginning to understand that there is nothing, NOTHING, a woman can do to deserve sexual assault. Nothing makes sexual abuse her fault. It doesn't matter what they did, the decision to violate the sanctity of their bodies was made by the perpetrator of the crime, and that person and that person only is guilty and should be publicly shamed for what happened.
Women are waking up to the ways that the sexual abuse that happened to them and their sisters was ignored or downplayed, and they're calling for all sexual abusers to be brought to justice. That includes Robert Sylvester Kelly.
Why get his music banned from the radio and his concerts cancelled?
Radio spins = Club spins = Concert bookings = Cash to pay for his crimes.
By playing him on the radio, R Kelly stays in our collective consciousness. We think of him when we're making our playlists or planning weddings or getting ready for a cookout. That lets concert promoters know that he's a viable artist with a fan base that will pay for his tickets. That gets him a paycheck. That paycheck goes to lawyers to fight court cases and pay off victims. Without the money, he's not able to continue to hide from the justice that awaits him. It's not an innocent thing to listen to him on the car to work. That's what helps continue his serial sexual abuse against young black women. That makes us all an accomplice to his crimes.
What about all the white men that get away with sexual crimes and don't face justice?
That's fkd up! All sexual abusers should be tried and convicted. Every. Single. One. But you got us ALL the way messed up if you think we're not going to try to stop the sexual abuse of young black women because the sexual abuse of other women goes unpunished. You are ALL the way crazy if you think we're going to give Black sexual abusers a pass because white sexual abusers have gotten one.
While there is a need to solve world hunger and take down Trump and convict Harvey Weinstein and a whole host of other societal ills, there are only a few of us and 24 hours in a day.
If you think that there are some other things that we should be focusing on, YOU start that campaign and we'll support it. If you want to deal with police brutality, DO IT! We're with you. If you want to focus on impeaching Trump, we're right behind you. Go ahead and start the campaign to expose Hugh Hefner or whatever other thing you think should be focused on. Don't sit around and do nothing, but expect us to do everything. That's not how change works.
And please don't think for one single, solitary moment that any of those issues are more important than the safety and well being of Black women and girls. We are a priority - to ourselves if to no one else. We are going to keep fighting for justice for ourselves and for our sisters. All day. Every day.
What can I do to help?
Every person can help us stop the reign of terror of R Kelly. Check out our Get Involved page for more info on how to join the movement.
Most importantly, though, is to start the conversation in our home, your neighborhood, your church and with your friends about sexual abuse - how to prevent it, how to recognize it when it happens, how to stop it when you see it, how to get justice when it's occurred, and how to heal after the fact. It's important that we begin to spread the message that a victim is never, NEVER, responsible for sexual abuse. It's time for us to stop sweeping sexual abuse under the rug and start calling the responsible parties to justice.
Talk about #MuteRKelly and sexual abuse loudly and everywhere, and together let's end the rape culture that has allowed our girls to go unprotected for way, way too long.